One day after dozens of public officials and civil, gay rights and community leaders called on San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone to cancel his plans to speak at an anti-same sex marriage rally next week, his spokeswoman sought to explain his stance while taking exception to the criticism.
Archdiocese of San Francisco spokeswoman Christine A. Mugridge said in an interview Thursday that as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Cordileone is obligated to convey church teachings.
"When we speak about defense, we speak in terms of religious liberty, coming from the platform of our religious standpoint," she said. "And when we speak of promotion we're promoting the sacramental understanding of marriage."
That religious discussion has overlapped into the civil arena, she acknowledged. Mugridge called Cordileone a "very open-hearted man" who often engages in one-on-one dialogue with people who may have different beliefs. But she said she personally believes a "person-to-person" conversation would have been more effective than a publicized open letter.
The letter's signatories -- among them Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee -- call on Cordileone to reconsider his participation "and join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred."
As for the march and its organizers, she said Cordileone for the time being "is not releasing a statement regarding his speaking venue."
However, she added: "We don't hate-monger, we don't pander to bigots," but rather "promote our understanding of marriage."